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9 Tips for Couples Who are Planning to Get a Pet

couples who want a pet

Are you looking to get a pet that you and your partner can take care of together? Here are some tips on how you can care for a pet with your partner.

So, you and your partner have finally settled down. Everything seems perfect. After you’ve successfully discussed your intention and weaseled your way into getting a new place and moving in together, fast forward a few months, and you have your new home. [Read: 14 tips to make living together work for you]

With your new pad and workplace locations reconciled, your personal stuff moved, walls painted, and routines established, the immediate future looks pretty promising. Then, out of nowhere, one of you blurts out, “We should get a cat.”

Now, before you agree and waltz into a pet store, there are certain things you should understand about getting a pet as a couple. For couples who didn’t have pets prior to moving in, getting your first “co-owned” pet is a serious step in your relationship. Most of the time, couples decide to get a shared pet as a test and/or a form of training to determine whether or not you are ready for the responsibilities involved with raising kids of your own.

People who have experienced owning a pet can vouch for its similarity to raising a kid. Pets, like human beings, have their needs. And being the superior and more understanding species, it is the human’s duty to provide for the pet’s needs, in return for their companionship.

Owning a pet requires both partners to be ready for feeding, grooming, and cleaning up excrement and, potentially, vomit. Along with this, pets occasionally require special attention, plus the added expenses of food, supplies, and vet bills.

What should you do before you get a pet?

Before you think yourself ready to get a pet, consider the following.

#1 Are you sure you want a pet? Think about the long run. Can you picture your daily life with a pet? As mentioned above, pets require time, money, and effort. Additional chores like grooming, trips to the vet, and dog walks would have to be squeezed into your tight schedule.

Let’s say you get a medium-sized dog, with a life span of 12-15 years. You can imagine that you’re going to spend time, energy, and money taking care of your pet in that time period–every single day. If you think that the benefits of a pet outweigh all the troubles, then you are probably ready for one.

#2 What kind of pet would you like? He’s a dog person, she’s a cat person. This could be a sensitive issue if both of you have different preferences for pets. Although cats and dogs are the typical choice, some couples prefer other species for pets. These may include rabbits, hamsters, turtles, hedgehogs, spiders, snakes, or other critters made popular by Tumblr.

In choosing a pet, make a “pros and cons” list. Less complex species require little attention from their owners, but have shorter lifespans than more complex ones. Top tier pets, like dogs and cats, require more care, but are highly intelligent and responsive to their owners.

#3 Where should you get your pet? Once you’ve solved the question of species, the next question is where you can procure your fur baby. You have a few options: a pet store, a private breeder, or a shelter. These choices have their own advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, pet store animals are expensive, but they are provided with basic veterinary services like vaccines and deworming medication. Pet store animals are also taken care of by professional animal handlers, so you can be guaranteed a nice, healthy pet. On the other hand, private breeders cost less and provide more variety than those found in the pet store, but you will have to take care of registration and vaccines.

If you really want to get the best deal, it is advisable to adopt your pet from the local shelter. Not only do you accomplish a good deed, but adopting a stray often costs nothing more than the checkup from the vet.

#4 Do some research on your preferred pet or breed. Make sure that you do this before getting your pet. Even if you’ve decided on the kind of pet that you’re getting, you cannot base your decision on preference alone.

Compare the breed’s traits to your activities and lifestyle. Certain breeds of dogs or cats can only be comfortable in a specific environment. If you live downtown in a flat or apartment with minimal space, get a pet suited for this type of environment. Mismatching your pet’s character with your current environment will only cause problems for you and distress for your pet.

#5 Divide the chores. Now, this is the tricky part. Getting a pet as a couple means sharing the responsibility of taking care of it. It is advisable that you divide the tasks between the two of you, and schedule them ahead, so that you’ll adopt it as part of your routine.

Daily tasks such as feeding, walking, and cleaning up the litter could be scheduled on alternate days, while other occasional tasks like vet visits and grooming can be assigned to either owner, and can operate on a rotating schedule.

#6 Organize some space for your pet. While fish, hamsters, and other small pets can be content in an aquarium or terrarium, larger pets require a larger living space to do their business. Small apartments dictate that pets share the living space of their owners. This could become a cause of small incidents, such as chewed household items, knocked-over vases, broken appliances, and fur on your clothes.

To avoid these problems, set the space for your pet with a leash or pet barrier. You can also train them to avoid specific areas of your home. If you have a bigger home with an available yard, you can allow your pet to spend most of their time outdoors, and allow them indoors in case of bad weather.

Which brings us to an important tip…

#7 Housebreak your pet as early as possible. If your pet will be spending a lot of time indoors, you should consider housebreaking them to avoid the hassle of getting poop and urine stains in inconvenient places. Housebreaking includes allowing your pet to familiarize themselves with places they can and cannot poop or pee in. The earlier you start the housebreaking regimen, the more effective it will be as your pet grows.

#8 Behavior training. Pets are still animals. There are times when their instincts will get the best of them. Punishing them for something they don’t understand will only make them adopt more undesirable behavior.

The best way is to train them with positive reinforcement. If your pet does something good, reward it with a treat or a reassuring pat, while dissuading it with a firm “no” if it gets too unruly. Both partners should participate in behavior training, so that your pet will learn to obey you both.

#9 Socialize your pet. Some breeds get along well with other pets and people, while some require a certain amount of training to be sociable. This is important if you and your partner expect frequent guests.

As with housebreaking, socializing is better if started at an early age. A well-socialized pet eliminates the problems brought by their intruder instinct, and lessens its desire to attack and injure. Friendly pets can also add charm to your home, especially if your visitors are animal lovers, themselves.

Pets can either make your settled life more fulfilling or become the cause of problems and arguments, if you are unprepared for the responsibilities. Getting a pet requires careful planning and preparation, as it is a living creature with feelings and needs. Get a pet that suits your lifestyle first, according to your preference next, in order for you to enjoy its benefits.

[Read: Newsflash! Your dog and your boyfriend have a lot in common]

Next to having children together, getting a pet is one of those relationship milestones that requires a lot of planning and consideration. If all goes well, you can be confident that your little family will be very happy, indeed.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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DISCUSSION

5 thoughts on “9 Tips for Couples Who are Planning to Get a Pet”

  1. Samuel says:

    With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I was thinking so hard what to buy to my lovely girl. And then, a light bulb appeared above my head and DING I had something. A dog. We’ve been talking about having a pet for quite some time, how it will prepare us for a baby and everything and plus I’ve seen her entering a pet shop to look at all those lovely creatures. I got her a golden retriever and I hope from the bottom of my heart that she loves it!

  2. permenante says:

    I had a pet Doberman and he has been my pet for 5 years now. All I can say is the best dog you can ever get is a Doberman. How can I say this? I have owned dogs of many different breeds now and so far, the Doberman beats them all. To be exact, I have had 25 breeds of dogs ever since I was 4 years old and has been training dogs ever since I was 9. I am now 32, so I could really be fit to give advice.

  3. pet toy mo baho says:

    Having a pet is a huge responsibility and could be a good way to practice your skills as parents. I have considered this as part of our relationship goals- to have a pet. I have always talked about dogs with my wife and I guess I’m going to tell her I want us to have a pet. LOL

  4. effmu says:

    When we met I had the 2 dogs and he had kitty and prince Caspian. 2 years later, his sister moved back in with their parents and couldn’t take her 2 cats, so we took in her calico sister cats. Bear was my grandparents cat they couldn’t take care of anymore so we added him to the mix too. For a first time pet owner, I would probably suggest a cat. They are easier to take care of, they don’t need to be let out, and you could go out of town for a few days and not worry about a sitter. We sleep with our pets. We had the king spring mattress and wanted to try the memory foam but they are super expensive so we got full foam mattress. We also needed storage so we skipped bedframe and boxspring and framed out storage under it so we lined up height to make them even. The seam is noticeable when you lay across it but not nearly what you would think. Sheets are just one set full and one king, matching if we can find them. The comforters are just two full and cover it perfectly, also nice if she wants covers and I don’t. Option for squishy spring or more firm foam is actually nice option ha ha.

  5. twin says:

    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost two years. He’s had a small dog for about four years. He’s been through a lot with this dog (breakups, addiction, mental illness), and says that the dog saved his life. The dog is really sweet and relatively well-trained. I like him, but he’s starting to get on my nerves. Most of the issues we have are because my bf has recently started bringing the dog over to my apartment. First of all, this dog constantly begs for attention. If my bf and I are cuddling on the couch, the dog will try to force his way between us. If we’re kissing and ignoring the dog, he will try to crawl on top of us and lick my bf. If he wants to play, he will bring a toy over and whine until we pay attention to him. If we go in another room and close the door (like if we want to have sex), the dog will whine at the door until he falls asleep or we let him in. The dog always jumps up to greet me when I come in. This isn’t always a problem, but I wear a lot of stockings and tights, and I don’t want his nails making holes in them. I’ve asked my bf to stop his dog from jumping on me, but he never remembers. I’m okay with the dog sleeping with us when I’m at my bf’s place–it’s his apartment and he can do what he wants. But I’ve told my boyfriend that I don’t want the dog sleeping in my bed for a few reasons: I’m slightly allergic to dogs and I have sensitive skin, so I usually get a mild rash when I’m around the dog. So I would really rather not get a rash from having dog hair in my bed. I also don’t think dogs are very clean–his dog walks all over the streets of NYC, picks up random crap from the ground and eats it, and is only bathed once every few months. The dog chews blankets, and my bf has several hole-ridden blankets to prove it. I really don’t want the dog to chew up my stuff. And finally, the dog sometimes barks at random stuff in the middle of the night, and has bitten me on several occasions when I’ve accidentally kicked him in my sleep. I’m a light sleeper and a busy grad student, and I really don’t want to lose any sleep. I’ve also made a rule that I don’t want the dog in my room because of the aforementioned allergy, and because he will pull tissues out of the trash can, destroy them, and leave them all over the floor. He also jumps up on my bed uninvited. So the dog sleeps on the couch if he’s in my apartment. But my bf still asks me if there’s some way the dog can sleep in my bed with us, which is annoying, because I’ve made it very clear that he’s not allowed to do that. My bf and I have agreed that he’ll stop bringing the dog over to my apartment, which is the obvious solution. But I still have to deal with the dog when I’m at his place. And I feel like my bf has been really dismissive of my wishes and my preferences. He’s told me that I’m being irrational and overly demanding because I don’t want the dog in my bed or in my room. He doesn’t think my rashes are a big deal. I’ve told him over and over again that I don’t want his dog to lie down on a pillow that I’m going to be using, and my bf still doesn’t remember. When I’m sleeping over my bf’s place on a night before I have a 9 AM class, I’ve asked him to put the dog in another room so he doesn’t wake me up, and my bf has flat-out refused, like I’m the one being unreasonable. I’m not nearly as attached to this dog as my bf is, and frankly, I don’t even like dogs very much. I feel like my bf values spoiling the dog over respecting my preferences and my well-being. My boyfriend feels bad that his dog will gets upset or lonely if we make it sleep in another room, but personally, I don’t care–I’m a fu*king human, and my desires should be put above the dog’s.

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